Why love hurts

Why love hurts

Love hurts, if you didn’t know.

It’s not a Hollywood kind of hurt. Not the jealous soul who travels through time or rainstorms to reach his love before she marries someone else. Nope. It’s risker than that.

Love hurts when you spend an afternoon counseling and friend who ignores wise advice and continues messing up his life.

Love hurts when you shelter a runaway who runs away from you and blames you for her problems.

Love hurts when you invest in a friendship with someone who betrays your trust.

Love hurts when you grieve someone you’ll never see again.

Love hurts when you trust someone only to find out he’s lied to you.

Love hurts when you labor over a project or your craft, only to have your work rejected.

Love hurts when you enter into someone else’s trauma and help carry it, even when it reminds you of your own trauma.

Love hurts when you invest in people for the greater good, and they vilify you.

That’s what real love does. It suffers so others can have hope (even if they don’t believe it’s possible).

Love hurts because love is an investment of time, energy, passion, and faith, usually in the face of fear, it’s greatest enemy. It is the most serious kind of risk because it challenges the seemingly irrefutable truth that fear speaks–that someone is past hope, that you aren’t capable, that nothing ever turns out of you. Fear recognizes that love’s success feels dependent on another person’s perceptions and emotions. Love struggles with reality but wins when it casts out fear (see 1 John 4:18).

I believe that’s why, as we age, we shrink our social circles to a safe and manageable size. That’s why if we’re hurt by love, we hesitate to love again. That’s why, the older that we get, the more careful (dare I say cynical, bitter, and suspicious?) we become about relationships because we understand how the world works. How people work. And what can happen if you trust too much or love too much or give too much. Your heart might just get run over.

The important question is: How can you love without hurting? (Because you must realize that walling yourself off for emotional protection just walls you off from love and joy. Instead of protecting yourself from hurt, you hurt yourself.) This is the important concern. And the answer to the question is, You can’t. You can’t love others without being hurt. (Just ask Jesus.)

The hurt you carry for others reveals the depth to which you love them. Celebrate that. It means you’re fully alive and that you are investing in the people around you. Events may create disappointments, but they don’t really hurt you. Hurt is always attached to people who need to be loved, who somewhere along the way doubted that they were loved. Until you came along.

I would say–on this dark night when I can’t sleep for writing this and thinking about the complicated relationships in my life—don’t stop loving people, even the risky ones. Don’t shut off the unfailing gentleness and willingness to see the best in others and respond to the needs because they need to be met–not because the person deserves your help (see 1 Cor. 13:4-8).

Insulating your life is just not worth the loneliness. Believe me, I’ve tried. Love is always worth the risk. Embrace the people around you, especially the needy ones. You are here for them. And remarkably, when it’s your turn, someone will be there for you.

Because of love.


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